A funny, charming romantic comedy starring Alicia Silverstone and Brendan Fraser
Romantic comedies used to be sweet, innocuous films that laid minor obstacles in the path to romance between its male and female leads. Blast From the Past is one such romcom, a charming 1999 film starring Brendan Fraser and Alicia Silverstone. Raised in a bomb shelter since his birth in 1962 by well-meaning parents, a man finally sets out at the age of 35 to get supplies and find a wife in L.A. of all places. Including funny performances by Christopher Walken and Sissy Spacek as the parents, its light humor and well-paced script turn Blast From the Past into a lovable romantic comedy for all ages.
Calvin Webber (Christopher Walken) is a brilliant CalTech scientist living in L.A. He has built a humongous fallout shelter beneath his suburban home for his pregnant wife, Helen (Sissy Spacek). At the height of Cold War hysteria in America about nuclear devastation with the impending Cuban Missile Crisis, Calvin locks his family inside the shelter for a period of 35 years. Calvin mistakenly believes a plane crash on his property is a nuke landing on L.A.
Soon after the couple are locked into the shelter, their son Adam (Brendan Frasor) is born. Adam’s simple childhood is cut off from civilization as his family is trapped inside their shelter for decades. No one above realizes they are in the fallout shelter since it quickly gets built over by a malt shop. Adam grows up with an intense classical education from his intelligent father and the old-fashioned values of a simpler era.
Adam is now 35 and yearns to find a wife. The shelter finally unlocks and he is exposed to the contemporary world of 1997 for the first time when his parents send him to get supplies. What was once a perfect suburb in 1962 has now become a seedy part of L.A., filled with prostitutes and adult bookstores. He soon meets Eve (Alicia Silverstone) and immediately falls for her. Eve is a cynical, modern woman that has been unlucky in love with a string of loser boyfriends. You can guess where this is going.
Adam hires Eve to be his assistant, paying her with his very valuable baseball card collection. It’s a cute, simple scenario we’ve seen before in romcoms. Adam is a perfect gentleman, well-mannered and kind. To the movie’s great credit, the romance isn’t pushed too quickly. Eve thinks Adam’s odd behavior and mannerisms indicate he’s lying about something, not knowing about his odd background trapped in a shelter for his entire life.
This is a sweet, lovable romance that the audience can root for…
This is a sweet, lovable romance that the audience can root for…
The gentle chemistry between Alicia Silverstone and Brendan Frasor slowly develops at a realistic pace. Eve doesn’t immediately fall in love and Adam isn’t the crazed pursuer we often get in movies today. This is a sweet, lovable romance that the audience can root for without feeling guilty for either party. Christopher Walken is a massively underrated comedic actor and his deadpan delivery is hilarious in this romcom. Everyone knows Walken’s work from SNL but his awkward, stilted cadence is perfect for the brilliant but kooky father. There is a hugely funny recurring gag involving a group of homeless people that believe Adam and his father are God.
Blast From the Past is an excellent, lightweight diversion with a strong cast. The nods to the vast changes in American culture since the early 1960s are funny without demeaning the earlier era. It is a romantic comedy that is actually both funny and charmingly romantic, marking it a true gem worth seeing.
Blast From the Past is presented in its fully uncut 112-minute length. That is the same length as the original DVD’s version, which restored six deleted scenes missing from the film’s international releases. WB provides a BD-50 for the 1999 New Line production, encoded in AVC at 27.92 Mbps.
The romcom receives a pleasant, fresh scan from pristine film elements. WB provides a technically capable AVC video encode that transparently renders the light, slightly filtered grain structure without incident. A hint of video processing is evident late in the movie as halos make an appearance. Overall clarity and definition are quite good for catalog fare. The 2.40:1 widescreen presentation is fairly crisp in 1080P resolution. A few scenes fall curiously flat in color rendition and depth, possibly being the deleted material mentioned earlier that has been restored back into the main feature. The contrast does become darker with denser black levels as the setting shifts to modern-day L.A.
The consistently excellent definition has fairly lush color saturation with a realistic color grading. Black levels are stable, displaying decent shadow delineation. This doesn’t have picture-perfect contrast in some of the darker scenes but does a respectable job at maintaining clarity.
Fine detail remains average in scope and its flesh-tones aren’t overly waxy. Some filtering is likely. The grain structure is even. Likely earning a 2K film scan from the negative, Blast From the Past arrives on Blu-ray in a fine debut that should please fans. It’s not reference material but worth seeing on Blu-ray for the increase in picture quality.
Blast From the Past has a fun, tasteful soundtrack filled with a variety of Pop tunes from across the years as Adam grows up inside the fallout shelter. It is presented here in a 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack that has a rich, full sound with perfect fidelity. Dialogue is cleanly presented and finely integrated into the light score and Pop music. There are even a few moments when the surround action gets lively with a strong sense of directional cues and bombast. A nice presence of atmospheric ambiance layers this audio mix.
WB includes multiple subtitles and dubs. The following optional subtitles display in white font that unfortunately jump outside the widescreen aspect ratio: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese. The dubs are: Spanish (Latin) Dolby Digital 2.0, Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0, Portuguese Dolby Digital 2.0, Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0.
The only included special feature is the original theatrical trailer. This was one of those rare New Line DVDs that didn’t include much in the way of special features, so there wasn’t much for WB to work with. A commentary or interview with any of the stars would have been welcome.
Theatrical Trailer (02:34 in upscaled SD)
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Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.